West Virginia will open their 2020 season Saturday afternoon against an Eastern Kentucky team that was blanked by Marshall last Saturday, 59-0. WVU head coach Neal Brown believes that this week is all about the team, and he and the Mountaineers are excited to have the opportunity to play football this fall. And although family members of the players and coaches and essential game day personnel will be the only people permitted entry to Milan Puskar Stadium this week, Brown wants Mountaineer fans to know that they will be missed on Saturday.
At long last, college football season is finally upon us. After months of testing and quarantining, West Virginia is gearing up to open its 2020 football season this Saturday afternoon against Eastern Kentucky at Milan Puskar Stadium. EKU has two quality running backs in Quentin Pringle and Alonzo Booth, who WVU’s Neal Brown believes are FBS caliber, and a couple of FBS transfers at wide receiver who could test the young Mountaineer secondary. But Brown also believes that Saturday is more about getting ready for Big 12 play.
It took Neal Brown just three words to characterize the improvement he expects this season from West Virginia’s running game: “We better be.” The only direction it can really go is up following last year when the Mountaineers failed to rush for 1,000 yards as a team. The returning offensive linemen have also vowed not to let that happen again in 2020. One of those returners is redshirt sophomore left guard James Gmiter, a Preseason All-Big 12 Third Team choice by Phil Steele magazine. Gmiter knows the run game has to be better this year.
When defensive coordinator Vic Koenning was forced out at West Virginia in July, responsibilities were shifted on the defensive coaching staff for the Mountaineers. For this season, defensive line coach Jordan Lesley and cornerbacks coach Jahmile Addae will share the coordinator post. Lesley will handle the front end of the defense while Addae will coach the back end of the defense. Both Lesley and Addae will be coaching on the field on game days.
West Virginia Athletics
During the college sports stoppage, two West Virginia University administrators helped ensure the return of competition this fall, and the commissioner of the Big 12 Conference is now applauding them for serving as guides during a critical period for college athletics. Bob Bowlsby commended the efforts of WVU athletic director Shane Lyons and president E. Gordon Gee, both of whom assisted the league during both the initial stoppage and return to play phase.
One of the most interesting and unique seasons in college sports is set to begin this week for the West Virginia women’s soccer team. The Mountaineers open their season with no non-conference opponents, instead playing only nine matches against the rest of the teams in the Big 12 Conference. WVU head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown has been proud of her team’s commitment to staying healthy and preparing for the upcoming season.
15 former West Virginia football players were listed on opening day NFL rosters as of Tuesday morning. Bruce Irvin is the longest tenured Mountaineer player in the league this year. The Atlanta native is beginning his ninth season overall and his fifth with the Seahawks. Other former WVU defenders making NFL rosters include Nick Kwiatkoski with the Las Vegas Raiders, David Long Jr. with the Tennessee Titans, and Kyzir White with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Around the Big 12
#14 Texas finally gets its first chance to showcase a squad that is expected to compete for the Big 12 Conference title, when the Longhorns host Texas-El Paso on Saturday in Austin. Attendance will be capped at 25 percent, with about 25,000 fans, for the Longhorns’ lone non-conference game.
Louisiana looks like a tough opponent for #23 Iowa State. The Cyclones are a preseason Top 25 team that could contend for the Big 12 title, but Louisiana looks like one of the top Group of Five squads entering 2020. ISU also won’t have a typical homefield advantage, as fans cannot attend the game.
Around the NCAA
#10 Notre Dame will play as part of a football conference for the first time, and that starts with Saturday afternoon’s ACC game against Duke. Notre Dame has shed its independent status this year to play a full ACC schedule, a development brought about because of pandemic-related changes and the need to have enough games to fill a schedule.
The NFL season is almost upon us, and without a dedicated preseason it is going to be one of the more unpredictable seasons in recent memory. Here are six NFL games you will not want to miss this year.
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